Thursday, December 2, 2010

Contemplating Psalm 67

One may contemplate Psalm 67 in the form of the Menorah bearing in mind some or all of the following additional kavanos (intentions):

• Psalm 67 contains forty-nine words (aside from the four words of introduction). This number corresponds to the forty-nine days (i.e., seven times seven weeks) between Passover and Shavuos. Some have the custom to mentally take note of the word in the psalm that matches one day of this period every evening after counting the Omer, so that one finishes the last verse on the night before Shavu'os. This word is usually found underneath the count for each day in most prayer books. The fiftieth day, corresponding to the Fiftieth Gate of Binah / Understanding, is Shavu'os. There is no corresponding word for the "Fiftieth Gate" because it represents the transcendent level.

The relation to Chanukah is that Chanukah represents Binah, which is the eighth sefirah in ascending order; it transcends the paradigm of seven, which is bound up with the natural order. The number 50 also corresponds to Binah, going one step beyond the paradigm of seven-times-seven.

• The middle verse ("Yismichu vi-yeranenu le-umim . . . Nations will rejoice and sing") contains forty-nine letters, also corresponding to the forty-nine days of the Omer period. Some pause to meditate upon the appropriate letter from this verse, in addition to the corresponding word from the psalm, while reciting it after counting the Omer. Most prayer books indicate which letter to contemplate under the daily count, as well.

• There is a total of 216 letters in this psalm. This corresponds to the number of letters in the Great Name of Seventy-Two Words (which are actually triplets of letters), concealed in the three verses of Exodus 14:19-21 (Rashi on Sukkah 45a, et al.). This Name plays a key role in the attainment of prophecy (see Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, Meditation and the Bible, pp. 41, 76, 141).

• The first letter of each of the seven verses forms the acrostic alef-lamed-yod, yod-yod-alef-yod. This combination of letters also bears the numerical value of seventy-two, which corresponds to the Divine Name YHVH in the expansion known as AB:

yud = yud (10)-vav (6)-dalet (4) = 20
heh = heh (5)-yud (10) = 15
vav = vav (6)-yud (10)-vav (6) = 22
heh = heh (5)-yud (10) = 15
Total = 72

This Name is bound up with Atzilus / Emanation, the highest of the Four Worlds, and the sefirah of Chokhmah.

• The final letters of the three verses on the left side of the central shaft are heh (5), khof (20), mem (40). They total 65, which is the gematria of the Divine Name A-D-N-Y, alluding to God's Kingship, and of the word "Heikhal," referring to the inner sanctum of the Holy Temple in which the golden Menorah was placed. Therefore, some diagrams include these words beside the Menorah.

• The middle verse begins with the letter yod and ends with the letter heh. Together, they spell the Divine Name Y-A-H, corresponding to the union of the sefiros of Chokhmah / Wisdom and Binah / Understanding. Archetypally, yud represents the masculine principle and heh represents the feminine principle. Thus, the Divine Name Y-A-H expresses the essential harmony of the universe in its supernal root.

• If one adds up the sum of the final letters of the six branches to the right and left of the Menorah (201), plus the yud-hey (15) of the central shaft, the result is 216. This corresponds to the 216 letters of the Great Name of Seventy-Two Words (which are actually triplets of letters) and the 216 letters of this psalm, as mentioned above. Thus, the middle verse contains in miniature the entire psalm.

• Gevurah / Might also has the gematria of 216. As we have stated, the acrostic formed by the initial letters of the seven verses bear the gematria of 72. This is the gematria of Chesed / Loving-kindness. Therefore, the Menorah reflects the balance of these two opposite forces.

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